After Hurricane Katrina damage in 2005, the athletic fields at Lusher Charter High School in New Orleans were unusable.

Now the National Automobile Dealers Assn. is coming to the rescue.

Considering ways NADA could show its commitment to helping rebuild New Orleans (the site of the association's 2009 convention) is how a theme was born: “Commitment To Community.”

Putting the theme into action, the association's charitable foundation contributed $400,000 to complete the renovation of the athletic fields at Lusher, the largest public high school in New Orleans.

The fields are also used for various neighborhood recreational activities.

Located in uptown New Orleans, Lusher “is the heart of that community,” says Robert Mallon, chairman of the NADA Foundation.

“By turning the lights back on at the athletic fields, area children will have a place to go at night for healthy competition and fun,” he says. “Area residents will regain an important gathering place.”

The future of a city starts with its children, and the Lusher school plays a key role in building tomorrow's leaders, says NADA Chairman Annette Sykora.

The renovation project will include resodding acres of grass and adding bleachers, a scoreboard and lighting. The fields will be able to support football, soccer and softball.

“We're hopeful that this project will be a catalyst for more community improvements in the future,” Mallon says.

To generate funds beyond the $400,000, NADA will conduct a national fundraising campaign involving member dealers, convention exhibitors and auto makers.

“Our commitment is long-term,” Sykora says. “New Orleans has been one of NADA's convention cities for more than 30 years.”

The NADA donation is through the Brees Dream Foundation established by an NFL football player, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife Brittany.

Sykora says the “Commitment to Community” theme is appropriate, because it is “something new car and truck dealers across America live every day.”